Scene: The second café that I attempt to navigate on my own
I started by reading the awning before I sat down. I’m a learn-ed girl, now. I check these things, okay. It reads:
“BAR LE PLANA”
I saunter over (because that’s what cool people do, they saunter) and run into luck. Also I run into a waiter, which is what I meant by luck. It’s lucky because I wouldn’t have to sit awkwardly and wave over a nice gentleman to take my order only to find out he doesn’t work there. No, that catastrophe was avoided with this smartly dressed young man arranging napkins (which I concluded was a very employee thing to do). I speak: “Bonjour! Un café, sil vous plait?” Nailed it.
He smiled and nodded, “Un café, bien sur.” Then I did this weird, hesitation jig in slow-motion where I went to sit down in a chair, stood up, half-sat down, and stood up again slowly all while emitting an ugly, confused “euhuehheuuuuuuuuuh?” sound. The awkwardness clued us both to the problem: I didn’t have cash on me. I asked if he took card.
“Pour un café? Desolee mais non.” He seemed actually sorry.
“Oh,” came my preferred response to everything.
He then kindly pointed to the nearby ATM, to which I had to apologetically explain that my card unfortunately didn’t work that way. Because I’m difficult and American like that. (Although I might add that this was all going down impresssively french, and I didn’t dare let “americainne” touch my lips this time).
As I winced and turned to go he waved his hand: wait, no problem. For you, this time, no problem. My pained face untwisted into a grateful smile, and I tried to muster as much appreciation into my body language as one can into the motion of sitting down. I pull out Pride and Prejudice, my postcards, and this fancy little notebook that I’m now writing in.
Man, I wish I had cash. Remember, Katrina: Must get cash.
But back to why this café is a COMPLETELY different experience than my first one–
So a different waiter than napkin guy comes out and puts my tiny coffee down on this matte black table that I planned to conquer from about half-a-mile away. It’s right by the street and I’m really pleased with myself and the fact that I chose one so obviously meant for people-watching. I felt like it said “Yo, I’m hear to people-watch and sit by myself and write in my journal and eat a lollipop because I don’t smoke and also have a absurdly tiny coffee”…And that’s exactly what I had to say, so the table was a great.
Anyway, so Different Waiter swoops over with my coffee without a single “I know you’re American so feel inferior now” line in his face. There’s no funny business—not even a warm smile—but I was completely enamored with the way he smoothly set down my coffee with an “at your own leisure” air, and flew away with complete indifference. It was great.It was perfect.
God bless the silent men who serve me coffee and then rush to give me space.
But my small falling in love wasn’t the best part of this “Café By Myself: Take Two.”
I’d been too distracted by his .02 seconds of charmless efficiency to notice that he’d also set down the check in a little ashtray. I examined it: 1.80 euros.
This was the cheapest coffee I’d had yet! Earlier I’d asked napkin guy if they accepted card because I knew for a fact I didn’t have enough coins to make 2 euros. But 1.80 euros….that changes things.
I dumped out the contents of my wallet like a child dumps out a piggy bank on the carpet– with a little too much enthusiasm. I suddenly had some serious counting business on my hands, and I went straight to work.
My heart raced (because the prospect of too-good-to-be-true moments always gets my heart going, big or small). I counted:
1 whole E coin
.50 E coin
.10 E coin
.10 E coin
.05 E coin
.05 E coin
I reviewed my math and started feeling a little special ed in all the time I spent recounting, but finally I came to terms with my luck: I had exactly 1.80 euros. Bar la Plana was scoring points for cafes like Chris Paul scores points for the Clippers; tiny but killin’ it, and reminding me that there is always hope yet… especially when we’re trying to forget about some embarrassing past failure. (Chris Paul metaphor meant as a shoutout to Rick).
But this isn’t all. I didn’t mention that it was RAINING when I got here and danced my oh-sorry-do-you-take-card dance, did I?
Okay, well as I looked up to the stormy heavens to thank the Exact Change Gods for their mercy, they weren’t there. Not the Gods (they were definitely there, they say hi) but I mean the storm clouds. Instead of darkness my raised gaze was met by the sun, reflecting over the Bordeaux stone buildings like Zeus himself just bore them down at that very moment. It was like they were just gifted from Mount Olympus to right next me, freshly shining because of the rain and glimmering with a strange ivory/gold that kinda made my eyes sore the longer I admired them.
Yeah, that’s right. I’m going there. You KNOW I’m inspired when I’m droppin Zeus’.
Also, there’s this sick arch at the end of Rue de St. Catherine that I’ve never looked at so long until now. It’s nice to stare at architecture sometimes, we should all make a pact to do that more. I’m gonna take a picture and see if no one notices.
Like a champ.
Even felt one of the soccer boys at the other table look at me and I still took another one.
You know what, I’m getting ballsy.
That’s right. Note the fuckin’ cookie.
Screw “Bar Montaigne,” Bar le Plana just scored a life long customer out of me. Their service is awesome, they read my wallet’s mind, and they have the sun on speed dial.
And Different Waiter dude is my favorite.
That’s hardly relevant but I just stole a glance and he’s wearing a really unique wash of jeans and he’s got a spring in his step. He’s also asian, which makes the spring in his step somehow more endearing. I don’t know what I mean by that, but I know I mean it.
He just gave a coffee to an old woman in the softest, kindest way possible. If a pillow served coffee, I just witnessed it. He’s magic, he’s the perfect waiter for each individual.
I’m just watching him and then writing, watching him and then writing.
but I’ve got stuff to do.
Books to read.
Trips to plan.
Okay, I confess– I peeked one last time. His skin is really clear, right now is the perfect chance to feel a twinge of attraction…but nothing.
What if I’m broken? Why am I so bad at attraction these days? How can I love his coffee serving THAT MUCH but not have a ounce of attachment to his flawless visage?
That’s a question for another cafe, guess.
Because 3’s the magic number, and my luck with them seems to be changing. My luck with cafes, I mean.